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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Transition to the Cloud

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I have recently seen a request for information on the process of transition to the Cloud Computing business model. Is there such a process? You tell me. But I guess you have your experiences you may want to share. Here is my best try at good practices.

My view is that one needs to start small, to test the waters, to understand the issues; the Cloud makes that easy. And the Cloud is a real alternative for your IT because, even before, companies have entirely outsourced their data centers, applications management, networks, helpdesk... in a much more unstructured manner.
Ultimately most IT can be outsourced to the cloud. But it's not only IT, business functions can be entirely outsourced as well, that is with all IT and expertise.

So, create a working team for Cloud evaluation.
Consult stakeholders to decide what to outsource and priorities. 
Research market, potential suppliers, assess them.
Calculate benefits. List and compare alternatives.
Evaluate security and data privacy issues and check suppliers solutions.
Consider a Virtual Cloud architecture where a combination of in-house and in-cloud solutions would be the norm.
Select a relevant service in the Cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) and test before buy.  The Cloud Computing business model is "lease" rather than buy or build and Opex rather than Capex spending, that is, pay as you go, pay for what you use, no big commitment upfront. 

You need to understand upfront the outsourcing big picture because mixing too many suppliers and different models of SaaS, PaaS, IaaS would create unnecessary integration problems.
I would start with SaaS for complex applications that demand costly maintenance, licensing, upgrades, in-house expertise...; IaaS may be suitable to host for most applications you still own but you or someone else manages them for you. 

Then design an Information architecture prior to moving your applications in the Cloud so applications use compatible information in exchanges. I believe that during the process an MDM implementation would significantly help harmonize the integration information exchange.

Also design the Integration Architecture based roughly on services. Evaluate integrator companies and Cloud brokers.

Specify the Business processes that have to be checked end to end, orchestrating the services and model them over prospective Cloud services.

Essentially if you document a high level Enterprise Architecture from the As-Is to To-Be states you would be better off because you discover your current capabilities, your IT landscape and you can sketch you options on the plan. 

The experience is essentially that of plain outsourcing; the cloud comes though with less published, tested, on-line interfaces, faster to deploy and probe, easier to revert from.
The Cloud will offer increasingly more choices and portability to other suppliers. So it's less risky and less difficult, i.e. doable.

The good news is that we would manage for the first time the divide between business and IT through formal contracts. And we can really control and plan IT spending. We have some choice too. What do you want more?

So long, Adrian

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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